Flowers in the Rain

Dear reader

Think back, regress with me a while. I understand that you have much more present and pressing matters to attend to right now, but please, humour me. Ignore the withered old fool laid out on the concrete in front of you and imagine you’re once more in the bloom of youth, nothing more than a budding child, a babe even. Now concentrate. Can you remember the first word that tumbled clumsily from your lips, or the blurred image that first projected itself onto the back of your retinas? How about the first smell that lodged itself in the fascicles of you olfactory nerve?

I ask these things only to infuse you into my world, to help you grasp just what the hell has happened here. You see I’m a collector. The same way some people collect stamps or butterflies or teacups, well I collect scents. Just look around you. You’re surrounded by them right now; hundreds of dusty old jars and bottles stored five deep on these rickety, silt-covered shelves. This was my life’s work. Everything I ever collected, distilled, mixed and decanted is stored safely here, from the first sweet-watered rose tops and earthy labdanum musks, to my final blended masterpiece. It’s in the jar sitting on the table in front of you, the one with the label inscribed ‘Flowers in the Rain.’ Fifty years it’s taken me to discover this scent, half a century of olfactory alchemy culminating in the final recreation of this first-remembered scent

Give it a go. Go on, try it; I’m hardly going to mind. Twist the bottle cap, that’s it, have a good old nose. Subtle isn’t it, almost not there at all, one of my finest. Can you place it, that crisp freshness like warm rainwater; the sun distilled in weightless droplets. It’s the light molecules you see. rise to the top, fizzle like sherbet.  In fact you should be able to feel it tickle your nerves about now, like fingertips gently tapping you skin. This is a good start; I can tell you’re with me here.

But wait, it’s not over yet. You can’t see it, how could you, but after a few minutes the top notes dissipate, evaporate, make way for the next layer, the heart notes. This is where the scent really starts to blossom. Take another deep breath. Here it comes, more floral than the top scent, like spring buds bursting open, an explosion of rose petals and lavender. It’s sweet isn’t it, maybe too sweet though, but then it needs to be in order to carefully mask the final act of my redolent relish.

Have you got it yet – it should be with you by now. It’s heavier than the last two, just sits in the background waiting patiently to make its move. Maybe you’ve smelt it before, in small doses it’s actually quite sweet, but in this high concentration it’s has a decidedly pungent scent, not pleasant I grant you, but altogether highly effective. Can you feel it working? You should be feeling a little woozy, like you’ve had a few too many. Your eyesight and hearing will be starting to go faint as your blood pressure shoots right down. Then, just before you pass out you will see the old man on the floor in front of you, the very same author of this letter, get to his feet. On my face you will see a surgical mask, in my right hand an extremely sharp knife.

Now, I must take this opportunity, while you still have the gift of consciousness, to apologise for misleading you, and also for the overly dramatic way in which I have been forced to orchestrate your demise. But you see the human adrenal gland produces a much higher quality of musk when forced into a state of distress, and your scent, well, it’s going to be divine.

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Tim Waltho

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